How to pick the right image format for your website

Great content isn’t everything. It also matters how your present your super awesome content. The choice of image format plays a critical role in this equation, affecting load times, visual quality, and user experience. So, how do you select the right image format for your website? The Think With Google’s article “Mobile Speed: Strategy and Performance” provides valuable insights on selecting the most efficient image formats for different use cases. We’ll break down the advice, here.

Checklist of image formats
Google’s advice for selecting an image format

Here’s the gist – WebP is your first choice

Google highly recommends an image format called WebP which can be used for photographic and translucent images at 30% more compression than JPEG, without loss of image quality. That means, you can display really high quality images for a fraction of the load time – fantastic!

However, WebP is not supported by all browsers (yet), so it’s not quite as easy as just slapping WebP everywhere you need an image. Your developers need to create a “fallback” non-WebP image that will be displayed when WebP is not supported.

Here’s what to use when WebP is not supported

When WebP is not an option, here is how you want to make your decision:

  • When to use JPEGs: Photos with no transparency
  • When to use PNGs: Images with transparent backgrounds
  • When to use SVGs: Scalable icons and shapes

What about Gifs?

A dog dancing
Gifs are great, but they can be heavy!

For animated images, GIF was traditionally the default choice, but it’s rather inefficient. WebP also supports animation and provides much better compression, making it an excellent alternative to GIFs. So, same rules apply. Shoot for a WebP version first, but fall back to a traditional Gif.

Wrapping up

Selecting the right image format for your website is a critical part of optimizing your website’s performance. It’s a balancing act between quality, load times, and browser compatibility. By understanding these factors and choosing the right formats, you can enhance your user experience and your site’s overall performance – and remember, better performance means more sales.

For more details, delve into the Think With Google article here.

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